Archive for Before and After Videos

Triathletes and Runners: Strength Doesn’t Equal Stability


"Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." - John 8:32

Without a doubt, endurance athletes are finally coming around to understanding and believing in the importance of strength training. Even though it's taken a while, it's great to see.  The kinds of "functional" strength work I was experimenting with in the late 1980s to help increase my durability, endurance and speed (while logging a lot less miles than most of my training buddies and competitors), is almost becoming routine now among many competitive triathletes and runners.

Along the same lines, it almost "normal" now to sit in the middle of a group of runners or triathletes and hear folks talk about "hitting the gym," or getting in their "leg (or arm) day." That was unheard of even just 10 years ago. Today, smart athletes KNOW that strength work has to be a part of their routine. As a "bonus," the strength trained runner or triathlete looks better. After all, who doesn't want a better physique to go along with our already highly developed cardiovascular fitness?

Part of the reason for this gradual shift is likely because baby boomers (like me) are aging. Ack! In addition to their race results or the next ironman, more and more are thinking about their longevity and how well (and gracefully) they'll age. That's a smart thing.

On the topic of strength and maintaining it, I've shared a few links recently that speak to the obvious and profound connections between muscle wasting (sarcopenia) and aging more gracefully.  THIS TedTalk called "Muscle Matters," and THIS article from OutsideOnline titled "To Delay Death, Lift Weights," are two examples of what I mean. Definitely take the time to read and listen!

So what's the problem?

Listen, there's absolutely no doubt that strength training is important for every athlete, regardless of your gender or age or experience level. As the above article and TedTalk discuss, there is NO substitute for being strong. In my opinion, every single person ought to put getting stronger at the TOP of their priority list.

But at the same time, as someone who works with injured athletes every day, I have to point out the BIG MYTH that exists in so many athlete's minds -- that ALL you need to do is hit the gym and work your arms, abs, back and legs, and you're set.

You may think you're doing all you need to do to avoid injury and perform your best, but unfortunately that's not the case.

How "ripped" or muscular you are - how much weight you lifted in that gym session last night - none of it has anything at all to do with how durable or injury resistant you are or will be down the road.

Not sure what I mean?

Here's an example. And yes, in case you're wondering, I see this week in and week out - athletes who can't for the life of them understand why they are so often injured, despite religiously going to the gym to lift weights and get strong.

The triathlete pictured here in these two photos contacted me recently to inquire about coaching. He's got talent and as you can see, he's a pretty strong guy. What's his goal? Qualifying for Kona - which is no easy task.

So what's the issue?

In one of his first attempts to qualify, he came really close to getting his slot, proving to himself that he had what it took!  However, ever since then his results have tumbled...and NOW, he's dealing with hip pain that has him in physical therapy and making multiple visits to his orthopedic surgeon to try and learn what is going on. To say he's frustrated is an understatement!

How does an obviously talented, goal-oriented, hard working triathlete like this, who as you can see is strong, end up with hip pain and suffering from increasingly worse race results? (There are many examples of athletes like this guy - strong and yet frustrated! Are you one of them?)

There are certainly a variety of things in both his movement quality and in his training and recovery that could explain his frustrations. One of the potential answers to that question became very obvious to me as soon as I saw some video of him on the treadmill as part of his Virtual Gait Analysis with me, something I do with EVERY SINGLE athlete I coach.
These two images, which I clipped from his run video at mid-stance (or shortly thereafter) of the gait cycle, show an excessive amount of  instability of his core and hip girdle, specifically measured here from the back as "lateral pelvic drop." As you can see in the picture, I measured 9 degrees of "drop" on the left leg and 7 degrees of "drop" on the right.

To say the amount of instability on a single leg here is significant is an understatement: 2 degrees or less would be considered "ideal" for this athlete. He's at 9 and 7 degrees respectively! Yikes.

One thing most don't realize is that this instability has very little to do with the strength of an individual muscle. Or the strength of his body. Or how "ripped" he might be. It has a LOT to do with his nervous system - and the timing of muscle firing. The kind of training that will fix these issues begins in the brain, with basics and fundamentals.

If you'd like to know MORE about this topic, you're in luck. I've written lots about it over the years.

Start by going to THIS post, where I discuss why mechanics are so important for race-day performance and injury resistance. Or THIS post, discussing the truth about why runners become injured. Or THIS one, which discusses the often misunderstood relationship between strength and stability. In fact, use that search function there to dig into many similar kinds of posts. There's much to learn.

Luckily, this athlete came to the right place. I'm confident that as he follows my guidance and the process unfolds, we'll see a gradual improvement in his stability.  And along with that, his durability and his performance.

As soon as possible, he wants to be back out on the roads so he can take advantage of his strength and determination to succeed, and finally reach his goal of qualifying for Kona!

So what are YOUR goals? Better yet, how can I help you get past YOUR movement related frustrations so you can go out and reach them?

To your success,

~Coach Al


You Need To Strengthen Your Glute Medius!


...Or DO you?

So listen, has a sports medicine professional, personal trainer or coach ever told you that your glute medius (or minimus) is weak, or that you need to strengthen it? Or, that this muscle "weakness" is the real reason you're injured?

If you've heard either of the above, my sincerest advice to you is stop what you're doing and get away from that person as fast as you can.

You might think that's a fairly harsh recommendation, but in my opinion, they are dead wrong.

Amazingly, when various "experts" should know better, I continue to see frequent references to this myth of glute medius "weakness" in a host of different places, online and off. I continue to hear supposed "experts" discuss the importance of that muscle.

In the video below, my partner Dr. Kurt Strecker tells it even straighter, calling the advice to strengthen the glute medius, "complete crap."  

My hope is that today's straight talk has spiked your curiosity to learn more. If it has, take a few minutes to watch, look, and listen.

Yes, it is 3 1/2 minutes long which I know might be too long according to today's typically short attention spans...but trust me, you won't be sorry you took the time to WATCH IT.  It is time to set the record straight.

Happy trails!

~Coach Al


Maryann Martinez: Before and After Gait Analysis and Subsequent Training

pursuit athletic performance

It was great to see Maryann Martinez in our Gait Analysis Lab! Maryann came back in for a video re-shoot, to see what progress she has made since her last visit. Check out the photo for one example of the super progress she's made! Nice work, Maryann! That picture is worth a thousand words, for sure. You have to admit, that just by looking at it, you can intuitively see how her running is now more powerful, and her risk of injury diminished.

To summarize her results, Maryann is much more stable in left leg stance as evidenced by less drop of her right hip. She's stronger through the glute and entire posterior chain, as evidenced by less cross-over of the left leg - it is now landing more under her left hip, resulting in better "stacking." She's also stronger through the entire hip musculature as evidenced by a "straighter" left leg, e.g. less movement toward the midline of her left knee.

Also, notice how much more stable she looks in her shoe. Better alignment and therefore less SPEED and energy leakage!

After we posted Maryann's photo on Facebook, she wrote this great testimonial. Thanks, Maryann! Nice work. Keep it up! Come back and see us soon. You rock!

Pursuit Athletic Performance

Before and After Video: WOW! Watch This Triathlete Run Now!

WOW!!! Take a look at this great before and after video!

Triathlete Rich Markowitz came to us for a gait analysis. Among a myriad of things, he learned that improvements to his posture would help him become a more injury resistant and efficient athlete. He did the work, and the changes are remarkable!

Not only is Rich's efficiency and economy much better in his running, but the changes he made are also protecting the long-term health of his back, neck, and cervical spine. As athletes, it's natural that we focus on issues relating to performance, endurance, and speed. But making the kinds of changes Rich has will also benefit his overall well being now and through the years. That's no small thing.

We are always pleased to give a shout out to our amazing athletes who commit to the program and see it through. Great job, Rich! We can't wait to see how you rock the 2012 season!


Before and After Video: Triathlete Makes Dramatic Run Changes in Two Short Months!

We are pleased to show you another terrific example of what can happen when an athlete goes through our gait analysis and subsequently adheres to our follow-up strength training program. The triathlete presented in this video made DRAMATIC changes in his ability to run well in only TWO SHORT MONTHS!

This athlete first visited us in late December 2011. He presented poor quality movement and had much weakness, asymmetry, and compensation from years of training and simply living a modern lifestyle (lots of sitting while working hunched over a computer). He was put on our Level 1 Restoration and Foundation training, and he spent the next few months DOING THE WORK. This triathlete worked diligently on the program, and the results prove it.

In the after video you will see a much more stable pelvic girdle, much stronger hips, and glutes. He is leaking far less energy meaning faster performance and less chance of injury. This diligent client knows there is more work to be done, and that he needs to continue his progression to retain the gains he has made, and to get stronger still. But, if he continues on his current trajectory, he will see his performance take off, his durability greatly increase, and risk of injury lessen even more.

See for yourself!

Reversing Decades of Dysfunction: Before and After Gait Analysis Video

Last week we presented a four part series demystifying what gait analysis is, what it isn't, and how it can help athletes identify compensations and dysfunction in their movement patterns. Today, we show you an example of the kind of results we achieve with athletes who go through our gait analysis, and adhere to our follow-up strength training program. Seeing is believing!

To give you some background, the athlete in the video below is a mid-pack competitor who has been competing for nearly 30 years. She has done road races of all distances including marathons, and has competed in more than 80 triathlons from sprint distances to three Ironman races.

This is one strong lady, right? Sure, if you define "strong" as the ability to go out and run 10 miles any day of the week. But this is where most athletes get confused. Someone can have outstanding fitness, yet be far from a complete, functionally-strong athlete working at their true potential.

In fact, this client presented with some of the most severe movement dysfunction we had seen--certainly in the top five of athletes we have worked with. She came to us with the all too familiar litany of loss of efficiency, being stuck in a performance plateau, and cycles of recurring injury.

Our detailed look at her body's quality of movement showed tremendous weaknesses, asymmetries, and compensations from years of training and simply living a modern lifestyle (lots of sitting while working hunched over a computer). As you watch the "before" video you will see outrageous instability and lack of strength causing her to "leak speed" with every footfall on the run. Is that you too? (We'll talk more about the issue of "leaking" speed in upcoming posts.)

Seems almost hopeless? Not in the least.

Our gait analysis allowed us to identify the serious compensations in her movement patterns getting to the ROOT CAUSES of her issues. Her weaknesses and compensations were addressed and treated from a whole body perspective. We put her on a training program of functional strength-building exercises to correct her asymmetries, and build her stability, strength, mobility and flexibility. She adhered to the training with great dedication.

Wen you watch the "after" video, you will see DECADES of dysfunctional movement REVERSED. The effects are so dramatic that another client asked if her "hip drop" was corrected by adding heel lifts in her shoes? Absolutely NOT! What you see is strength and stability BUILT INTO her body. That solid, balanced core is ready to be called upon to support all she wants to achieve in training and racing--not to mention it makes her healthier overall.

This client remains "all in" for the long term and continues to build on her new, great form. She is getting faster and stronger with each passing month.

There is no doubt this dedicated triathlete can go out and conquer any goal she sets--and with a much, much lower risk of injury. She is ready for her performance to soar!

Enough talking! See for yourself!